Is there a distinct benefit in setting aside a portion of life to the attentive formation of your spirit and the concerted development of your mind?

Why Educate Yourself as a Christian?

by Charles A. Metteer, PhD
8/30/17 IHOPU

Is it really necessary for a Christian to educate herself? Gaining the ability to read and write is surely more advantageous than remaining illiterate. Yet, how literate need she be? Does God prefer that she read and write at a second-grade level, an eighth-grade level, a twelfth-grade level, or higher? Developing a set of skills in a trade or vocation is more beneficial than remaining categorically unqualified. These points hold true even though the process toward proficiency and expertise is generally slow and arduous. Moreover, once “skilled,” the need to hone abilities and talents or stay current in the field requires ongoing, focused training and dedication. Are these educational scenarios in any way inappropriate or irrelevant to the Christian life? Does her spiritual formation take care of itself as she strives to cope with the bumps and bruises of life? Or, is there a distinct benefit in setting aside a portion of life to the attentive formation of her spirit and the concerted development of her mind?

These pursuits presuppose the willingness of a person to educate herself. Even so, the essence of the educational process is not merely a willingness to learn, but an interest in learning: an insatiable curiosity, if you will. A young girl may be willing to learn because her parents give her no other option but to attend school. In the classroom, however, the demarcation line between enforced education and motivated learning is clarified individually. Compulsory studying (or cramming) has its benefits, but if the girl is not inclined to absorb the pre-selected material into her life, then little lasting benefit arises. However, if she is interested in the material and motivated to incorporate into her life the new information or capability, then true learning occurs as the schooling is retained and used.

This educational distinction is applicable to training in the Christian life. It is one thing to have the willingness to pray, worship, read Scripture, and exercise spiritual disciplines, but it is another to possess interest in these things and to crave learning more about God and how to connect with Him. (Do you still possess this interest?) Along this line, even as acquiring literacy and trained competency are necessary life pursuits, so gaining biblical literacy, understanding God’s plan of salvation, articulating enthusiastically in prayer and worship, relating passionately with Jesus, and exercising spiritual disciplines are necessary spiritual pursuits in the Christian’s educational experience. Granted, few are called to function on the level of an Ezra, the Old Testament scribe who “set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10 NASB). Yet, all are called, as was the young Timothy, to zealously learn God’s Word and to enthusiastically practice spiritual disciplines.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 NASB)

Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. (1 Timothy 4:7 NASB)

It is precisely at the intersection of willingness and interest that Christian education has something distinctive to offer the learner. For the person who hungers and thirsts after righteousness, who longs for intimacy with Jesus, who grieves over the rebelliousness of her flesh, and who is insatiably interested in learning His ways and doing His will, a Bible or ministry school such as International House of Prayer University (IHOPU) can offer the mentoring and community life necessary to attain these spiritual goals. Receiving instruction and studying are clearly necessary activities for the learner along the way, but even more so are the sharing of lives and learning from observing and doing. Community interaction and personal learning are inseparable.

Building on this unity of community and learning, the Christian character of IHOPU is not attested by what goes on at the fringes, or even by the existence of courses in biblical studies or Christian worship, but by the mood and conviction of the institution’s teaching. The Christian commitment of those who teach writing, media, and music theory may be a far more accurate testimony of the Christian character of IHOPU than the commitment of the person who teaches systematic theology or New Testament exegesis, where this may be assumed. Part of the value of Christian professors lies in what they do outside of the classroom, not merely in what they do while engaged in formal instruction. One mark of a scholar who takes her Christian conviction seriously is that she shares reverently with her colleagues and students in public prayer and worship. A professor of linguistics, deeply respected by students for her work, may accomplish far more than she realizes by the simple act of kneeling in prayer. IHOPU is, by its very nature, a community of study and prayer, a fellowship that requires demonstration as much as explication.

Jesus, may we grow in our interest in You, the most interesting being in all the universe. May we develop a keen desire for the things of the Spirit. May we retain or regain the urge to learn. Please Lord, help us; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. In Your name, Amen.

How is God leading you to further your Christian education?

International House of Prayer University offers training in ministry, music, and media in the context of day-and-night prayer, raising up messengers who will declare Jesus’ beauty and worth to the world. To learn more about IHOPU, including our programs this spring (January–May), visit

On Tuesday, September 18 at 3pm CT, Mike Bickle will lead a webinar with practical tools for believers to embrace God’s end-time storyline. If you are considering ministry training, join us for this free, live webinar to learn about what God is doing at IHOPU. Click here for information and registration >>

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